ton of questions about moving to brazil

Background info: so I’ve been accepted to a school in Sao Paulo.  I’ve already given my 2 weeks notice at work.  I haven’t gotten my student visa yet.

I’ve got a ton of questions (uma tonelada de perguntas) about moving to Brazil:

1.    I keep hearing how brazil is a dangerous place and not to carry valuables with you.  Is it a bad idea to move to Brazil alone with a laptop case filled with important documents (but no laptop inside), a laptop case with a laptop inside, and 2 heavy duffel bags.  It would be very difficult to walk around with all that stuff alone, and I assume that I would be an easy target for thieves.  Is it a bad idea to carry all that stuff with me when I first get off the plane in Brazil?

2.    Or do you think it’s better to just carry one heavy duffel bag and 2 laptop cases when I come to brazil?  Then, I could get someone to mail me the second duffel bag of clothes.  Or, I could just not have the second duffel bag mailed to me, and I could just buy a lot of clothes in brazil.

3.    Is it a bad idea to carry my laptop in a laptop case when I am in Brazil?

4.    I am a soon-to-be-35 year old.  I am in very good physical health, except I do have gum disease (a dental issue).  Do you have any advice about what kind of expat health insurance to get?

5.    Do you recommend any particular expat health insurance companies?

6.    I’m going to bring my cell phone with me.  What is the process for getting a new phone number/cell phone service in brazil?

7.    A month or two ago, when I was planning on visiting (but not moving to brazil), one guy from my cell phone company said that I have to get a new sim card when I go to brazil.  I’ve never used a sim card.  How does this work?  You get a sim card from a store, you toss out your old sim card, and you stick the new sim card in?  does it give you a new phone number and unlimited data?  Does your phone still have your apps and information in it after getting the sim card, or is the existing information erased?  If you get a second sim card after the first sim card runs out of time, do you get a second new phone number?

8.    Is the process of getting a new cell phone number in brazil different than getting a sim card?

9.    Do you have any recommended cell phone services?  I will just be paying for myself.

10.    Do you recommend living in certain areas in sao Paulo?  If so, why do you recommend these neighborhoods?

11.    Do you get a student discount on your subway tickets in sao Paulo?

12.    Do people just take taxis late at night to avoid crime? 

13.    What if you are a mile away from the subway at night?  Would you walk to the subway or take a taxi home?  What is the smart thing to do?

14.    The only reason I have credit cards is because you are recommended to have 3 credit cards to build up your credit history before you buy a house in America.  Do I need to have credit cards to build up credit history in brazil?

15.    I have one American express credit card and 2 citi credit cards.  Each of the 2 citi cards requires a minimum 25 US dollar payment every month, even if I don’t have 25 US dollars worth of charges every month.  Will I be able to reach 50 US dollars of payment every month on my credit cards in Brazil?  The exchange rate is 3.87 reais per 1 american dollar.

16.    From what I’ve read, it seems like people mostly use cash in brazil.  Do I need credit cards in brazil?

17.    Do you recommend using any particular credit cards in brazil?  I am American.

18.    I have chase bank.  My brother, who has travelled a lot, recommends that I get a second bank account.  That way, if one bank account gets hacked, then thieves would only have access to half my money.  I don’t really like the idea of making life more complicated with 2 accounts.  What do you think of this advice from my brother?

19.    Do I need to buy a plane ticket BEFORE I go to the Brazilian consulate to get a student visa?

20.    Do I need to buy a round trip ticket, or will just a one way ticket to brazil suffice?  I don’t plan to come back to the U.S. unless I have to for a wedding or funeral.

21.    my plan is to keep renewing my student visa until i marry a brazilian girl.  A forum member mentioned that to get permanent residency through marriage, you must provide the civil cartorio with "Your Birth Certificate-Long Form, Certified by the Brasillian Consulate from your home Country, And Translated into Portuguese"

do you think it will sound suspicious to the brazilian consulate if i ask them to certify my birth certificate at the brazilian consulate?  if they ask me why i want to get my birth certificate certified, i would say that if i get married in brazil, i will need the brazilian consulate in the u.s. to certify my birth certificate, and if i do it now, i won't have to book a plane flight to come back here in a few years.  but if i say that, it might sound suspicious, and i wonder if the brazilian consulate may think i want to do a fake marriage to get citizenship.  i worry that they might put a note in my file that i am acting like i want to do a fake marriage that will affect me in the future.  should i ask the brazilian consulate in america to certify my birth certificate?

22.    If I do get the Brazilian consulate in new York to certify my birth certificate, should I ask them to translate the birth certificate also, or should i just have it translated in brazil?

23.    if the brazilian consulate in new york puts a note in my file that i am acting suspicious for wanting them to certify a birth certificate so i won't have to fly back to the u.s. to get the document if i get married in brazil in a few years, do you think the policia federal and civil cartorio in brazil will have access to those notes, or will only the Brazilian consulate in new york have access to those notes?

24.    The administrator at the school I got accepted at claims that I need to present the policia federal a NOTARIZED copy of my birth certificate.  I was born in California and live in new York now.  I think i do have a certified copy of my birth certificate.  According to google, you are not allowed to notarize birth certificates in new York and California.  Any advice on this?

25.    The administrator at the school said that if I can’t get a notarized copy of my birth certificate, I can get a certidão consular.  Do I just get that at the US consulate in brazil?

26.    The administrator at the school said that I have to go to the policia federal when I get to brazil.  I guess I have to go there to tell them my address, too.  When I go to the policia federal, should I try to hire someone to translate for me, or can I just go alone?  (I’ve been learning Portuguese since august pretty intensely, but I know I still suck at Portuguese)

27.    My plan is to get to brazil 2 weeks before school starts.  My plan is to try to get an apartment in 2 weeks, and if that doesn’t work out, then I could live in student housing.  What do you think of this plan?  is it realistic to think that I might be able to get an apartment in 2 weeks with crappy Portuguese?
(most likely, i would probably try to find someone who already has an apartment and become their roommate)

28.    I think I read somewhere that if you get your own apartment in brazil (no roommates), that it could take months before the internet is installed.  Is that true?

thanks

I don't know where you're getting your info from but a lot of it is false.....People mostly use cards in Brazil not cash. Cards everywhere, beach vendors take cards
Visa and mastercard

2 banks idea is not bad

Use uber at night

By a sim card at a news stand activate it with a CPF no , I recommend vivo , there is a weekly plan R$15 for a gig of data and limited call time pay as you go....
put a Sao Paulo area code when you activate it, the code is 11
you: "Eu quero comprar chip de Cellular."      (a-yo keroo comprar chippie g sell-u- lar)
salesman: "qual?"
You: "Vivo"        (Vee-vo)
Bear in mind Iphones take a funny little sim chip that you have to buy at a vivo store
you put the chip in will change your no but all other settings and contacts should stay the same


I've installed internet twice , took 2 or 3 days each time

if i use a vivo weekly plan, i will get a new phone number the first week.  when i pay for the second and third week, do i keep the same phone number, or do i get a new number every week?

and do you keep renewing every week at the store, or do you do it online?

does the "call time pay as you go" option take money out of a credit card as you use the minutes, or how does that work?

thanks

No you buy the card once and keep the number
I've had the same number 4 years now

You buy credit at the supermarket , Quero comprar credito de vivo

From there you sign up for the pre paid plan on your phone and pay each week from credit on your phone, you can also buy it online but I'm not sure if you need a Brazilian bank account

The promotion package is called vivo turbo, you will probably need a local to help you get it set up on your phone, it's a service you start and the credit is debited off your phone automatically each week, if you don't put credit on the plan will go dead til you recharge then it will activate again, it's all pretty simple

Brazilian cell carriers are all about equally bad.  Brazilians generally choose the one that's least bad locally, and the one their friends and families are on, because the companies charge for calls between each other's networks.  Stevefunk seems to think that  Vivo is least bad in SP, and I have no reason to say different, unless your phone is incompatible (see below).  When you have a group of friends, you'll probably change to their network, if it's different. 
If you're planning on putting a Brazilian SIM card in your  unlocked US phone - usually the most economical choice - you need to consult www.frequencycheck.com to see which networks your phone will work on first.  Most US phones with GSM capability will handle voice, but Brazil uses different frequencies for data.    Not all carriers are compatible with all phones.  Use the specific model number from your phone's settings for this search, not the general manufacturer's model:  not all US carriers' model variations are equally compatible.
A typical Brazilian phone plan will give you free in-network calling and a data plan.  Most plans will also give you unlimited WhatsApp that doesn't hit your data plan; be sure that you have this, because Brazilians use WhatsApp for everything.   There's a charge for SMS texting, so people use WhatsApp instead.  There's also a charge for voicemail, so nobody uses it, or checks it.
After inserting the chip, you'll need to change some additional settings in your phone.  You can find these by Googling "(Carrier name) settings for (phone model number)"

The pay as you go you buy a chunk of credit , from that you buy your data plan (in my case vivo turbo) there is no other charge on your cards

I spend exactly R$15 per week on my phone, I only use whatsapp and I basically gave up answering my phone as every call is marketing - it's crazy in Brazil
I would never never ever enter into a phone contrat, it's a waste of money unless you plan to make loads of calls......I never call just whatsapp


For phone calls I call from skype, I top up skype with money via credit card and use that, it's almost free to call a land line and very good rate to call a cellphone , of course I do this on my computer with internet at home, not with phone data.
R$40 on skype lasts me a few months of calling home and local calls to book appointments etc

Friends and family we just chat on video chat facebook or skype which is free

ok.  thanks.  i looked up the vivo turbo website.

it seems like you can make unlimited calls to other vivo customers and you get 40 minutes of calls to non-vivo phones per week. 

how fast does the vivo turbo 1 gb of data per week get used up?


i read this on the brazil wikitravel page:

"Be careful using credit cards at taxis, gas stations, newsstands and small outlets. Their owners aren't so careful about checking employees and technicians who perform maintenance on card machines, so many people have their cards compromised and then over several days have money siphoned off their cards. A safer option is to use cash for small expenses (so you don't need to carry too much - just make sure you only withdraw from bank ATMs) and to go to bigger stores with multiple machines since their managers use to enforce security and checking protocols to prevent scammers from compromising card machines (gas station franchises being a sad exception). If you choose to use your credit card, keep an eye on your statement."

is this true? 

should i avoid using credit cards at taxis, gas stations, news stands, and small stores?"

thanks

It's true that it's generally more convenient to make small purchases with cash.  Aside from the security issues, US credit cards aren't universally accepted in Brazil.  in addition, merchant transaction fees on credit cards are high in Brazil, and Brazilian merchants who do accept credit cards often tack a surcharge onto the price to cover them.
Only withdraw cash from ATMs in bank branches:  they're under 24 hour surveillance, and it's much harder for someone to sneak an illicit card reader into one, than it is into a standalone ATM in a store or a mall.

Re:  Luggage Questions 1 & 2
Brazil isn't Afghanistan, for God's sake, and São Paulo isn't Kabul:  you're not flying into a war zone.  Brazilian airports have luggage carts, and you'll be perfectly safe getting your stuff to the taxi line or your Uber, and getting out of the car and into your hotel or AirBnB.  You'll probably be arriving in the morning, and getting to your destination in broad daylight during a busy time of day.  The same alertness you would use in any other major city should be enough.
That said, you should consider streamlining your luggage -- not for security, but for practicality and ease of movement.  Most people overpack to go abroad, so try to avoid that.  Don't try to ship clothes to yourself:  they'll arrive eventually, but you'll have more hassle with Customs and the shipper than such a low value, high volume shipment is worth, and it will be costly, as well.

Re:  Question 3.   " Is it a bad idea to carry my laptop in a laptop case when I am in Brazil?"
No.  It would be a bad idea to put it in your checked luggage; a laptop case in your carry-on is a good idea.
Once you're in Brazil, it's still a good idea, as long as it's in your control at all times, and not, for example, in the chair across the table from you in a coffee shop, with the strap hanging free, saying "grab me and run!"

Re:  Questions 4&5, health insurance
If you have COBRA  from the job you're quitting, find out if they'll cover you in Brazil; if so, you may not need anything more.  As soon as you set foot in-country, you're covered by SUS, the national health plan; wait times are long, so you'll probably only want to use it for emergencies, vaccinations, etc..  Ask the people at your school what private plans they recommend.

Re:  cell phone questions.  Pretty much covered already.  But don't throw your US SIM card out:  put it in a safe place.  You may need it again.

Re:  Question 10.    "Do you recommend living in certain areas in sao Paulo?  If so, why do you recommend these neighborhoods?"

Here's a smart way to narrow your search, and find a good, safe, convenient neighborhood:
First, Google "Bairros nobres em São Paulo."  "Bairro nobre" literally means "noble neighborhood", and it's the general Brazilian term for the best neighborhoods in any city, "best" based on things like safety, convenience, public service, and amenities.  That will give you a couple of overlapping lists, because the concept is a bit subjective -- but there will be lots of overlap.
Next, open a map of São Paulo in Google Maps, centered on your school.  Note any of the  "bairros nobres" nearby, or easily accessible by transit.  Most of them won't be, but some of them will.
You might want to stay in an AirBnB initially in one of the neighborhoods you identify, and check out the others.  Chances are good that you'll find an area you like, and that's convenient for you.
Last year, my husband and I were seriously considering moving to São Paulo, and we were looking at apartments in Bom Retiro and Consolação.  We liked the vibe of those neighborhoods a lot, and they were convenient to USP, where he was hoping to study.   Those plans fell through, so we stayed put.  If those neighborhoods are convenient to your school, they're worth a look; if not, not.

Re:  Question 11.    "Do you get a student discount on your subway tickets in sao Paulo?"
Fulltime students in Brazil not only get discounts on transit, they get discounts on museums, theaters, movies -- lots of things.  Confirm with your school that your course qualifies, and if so, go for it!

Re:  Questions 12 & 13.  People take taxis and Ubers to avoid crime, but also to avoid walking -- it's a huge, spread-out city.
A mile from the subway?  It depends.  If you're alone in Centro at night, yeah, get a ride ASAP, preferably in front of a restaurant or hotel that's open.  If you're with a bunch of friends on Avenida Paulista, or clubbing with friends in a popular area, walk or ride, your option.

Re:  Questions 14 & 15:  Visa and MasterCard have wide acceptance in Brazil; Discover/Diners Club is more limited, but trying to expand.  AmEx seems to be shrinking -- the transaction fee problem for the merchants.
Those cards that you have to pay at least $25/mo. for sound like a really bad deal, wherever you are.  Check with your bank, or check on Credit Karma, to see whether you can replace them with free cards, or at worst, with cards whose annual fees are less than $300 each.

Re:  Question 18
If you anticipate the usual balance of all of your accounts in a single bank to be over $250,000, then yes, you need a second account in a second bank:  that's the limit that the FDIC insures US bank accounts for, so, if your bank is hacked, you could lose everything over that.  Not likely, is it?  Then there's no reason to complicate your life with a second bank, unless you really, REALLY like paying bank fees.
If your real concern is having your debit card scammed in Brazil, there are simple things you can do to lessen that danger that don't involve multiple banks.  First, before you leave, get RFID blocking sleeves for your debit and credit cards, so they can't be scanned and read remotely.  If you're an Amazon Prime member, you can have them delivered free in two days.  Most packages also include a sleeve for your passport, which is a nice touch, now that they're all chipped.  After you've put your cards in them, just make sure to stick your wallet in your carry-on when you go through airport security:  they make the metal detectors go crazy.
The second thing, as stated above, is to only use ATMs in bank branches:  they're much harder for crooks to scam than remote ones of any kind.
Finally (and obviously), if you're using a debit or credit card at a checkout, be sure to shield the keypad when you input your PIN.

Re:  Question 22.   " If I do get the Brazilian consulate in new York to certify my birth certificate, should I ask them to translate the birth certificate also, or should i just have it translated in brazil?"

The Brazilian Consulate will not certify your birth certificate.  Both Brazil and the United States are parties to the Hague Convention on Apostilles, which means that you need to have the Secretary of State of the state where you were born (California, if I remember correctly) attach an apostille to your birth certificate, vouching for it; it will then be accepted by any Brazilian governmental agency.  Check the Secretary of State's website:  this is a common service, and the fee is generally pretty small.
The Consulate will also not translate your birth certificate, or any other document.  You will need to have that done in Brazil, but a Sworn Translator, who is a person specifically authorized to provide translations that are accepted as legal documents.  There are some in every state capital, and at least one company, Fidelity, that provides sworn translations over the Internet.

This answer also applies to Question 24.  the Federal Police will accept your California birth certificate, with an apostille from the California Secretary of State, and a sworn translation of both documents.

Here this song will give you all the info about Brazilian life
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw0uz88E2gI

Thanks for the responses.  I've been very busy this last week.  I haven't really gotten a chance to digest all the info, but i'll look into more when i get some free time and will give a proper response later.  Thanks

Whoooa!! So many questions..

I surmise you will be teaching classes. 

Yes bring the laptop, just do not leave it unsupervised .  I've seen aplenty people using in public places ( Starbucks,  Gas Station Coffee Shop, Co-Working Places ).

Health Insurance.  For quick go to places, Prevent Senior is opening up coverage to younger ones, and they do have their own hospital network.  For State of Art Health Care you might be considering a coverage plan that gives you access to more specialized clinics and Hospitals. 

Personal safety.  You are not less safe or safer than Chicago, LA.  Just use common sense.  Avoid Bling, avoid pulling cash on the street, keep your wallet where you can see or feel it.

Paperwork.  Get the help of a Despachante.  That is a Gopher type that for a fee helps you to wade through the bureaucracy.  In São Paulo, most of the bureaus you will ever need to get documents issued are these days clustered into a single building.  They call them Poupa Tempo. Find one nearby, and take the day to sort through the paperwork chase.  Follow through as needed.   

Rentals, Housing   You can do AirBnb, but assume for all intents and purposes you will need to cut rates, and therefore should opt for a rental term plan with a term lease.  OR get a flat, while you are getting settled.   

Where to be.   If you need to save, go beyond the beaten path of where expats live.  There are so many neighborhoods that are not on the Tourist beaten path, yet, they are incredibly safe, and you can save
a ton on dining  out, grocery shopping, cost of housing.  The key is to be close to the subway or train stop.  Ten minutes to the subway is sacred.   

In São Paulo there are neighborhoods that you should avoid, no matter what the listing broker says.   
I often take clients, on a neighborhood showcase before we talk listing.

Be a hustler don't use a despachante , I never used one or a lawyer all the way up to citizen, if you coming to Brazil you going to have to learn to be a hustler so you can be a pimp like me ! otherwise your going to just end up another boring expat old fart who cant speak portuguese properly

I think everything you have heard is "Overblown" follow the State Department Guidelines,  Do a lot of Research on Brazil's Customs and Habits and you'll be fine, on Marriage Look Really,Really, Really Deep. Read as much as you can and you should be fine. I am 63 years of age and I keep to myself and respect the Brazilians and most of all "Remember you will Always be the Gringo" the term is acceptable by me for it also means Estranger"(sp) simply someone not from Brazil.  Read of Recent Crime in Sao Paulo. I find it hard to believe someone applied for a Student Visa in Brazil and has done little to no Research. Most of the information above is good. The people above my post are very knowledgeable and we made a choice to live in Brazil. Best of Luck to you and Read,Read,Read. I got lost after Question 3....lol. you can PM if you like. I have never seen a American Express Card acceptance point, Mastercard and Visa are good. Most Shady places you use your card will be rejected by the card issuer, Try to only shop at Major Stores and mailing is very, very, very expensive. If you recieve a student visa from the Brazilian Embassy they should direct you on the other documents you will need to live here comfortably,  #99  Ask the Forum Expat .Com any questions for most of the things you asked about have already been covered....

Abthree,
Thanks for all the detailed answers.
It seems like the rfid blocking sleeves are not needed based on my research:

https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechcon … -need-them
https://www.csoonline.com/article/31990 … allet.html
https://thewalletshoppe.com/rfid-blocki … hint-dont/
https://www.ibricraft.com/6-questions-a … know-more/

actually, my brother was also advising me to get rfid blocking sleeves. 
Most credit cards (at least in the u.s.) do not use rfid technology.  It seems like the credit cards that do use rfid technology have a symbol like this:  “))))”, except that the parentheses characters go from smaller to larger.

“Only withdraw cash from ATMs in bank branches:  they're under 24 hour surveillance, and it's much harder for someone to sneak an illicit card reader into one, than it is into a standalone ATM in a store or a mall.”
This sounds like solid advice

“If you have COBRA  from the job you're quitting, find out if they'll cover you in Brazil; if so, you may not need anything more.  As soon as you set foot in-country, you're covered by SUS, the national health plan; wait times are long, so you'll probably only want to use it for emergencies, vaccinations, etc..  Ask the people at your school what private plans they recommend.”
I’m just concerned that right now, since my Portuguese sucks, it may not be wise to try to get Brazilian private insurance.  What do you think?  Should I try to get insurance through English-speaking ways for now and try to get Brazilian private insurance after I’ve been in brazil for a year (after my Portuguese is decent).

It seems like the “bairros nobres” in sao Paulo are just the rich neighborhoods.  I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to live in a rich neighborhood without a job.  I think I’m aiming for a middle class neighborhood.  My main concerns are safety, proximity to the subway, and proximity to cheap food.
My plan is to just show up 2.5 weeks before school starts and get my cpf and cell phone number and then look for apartments.  If I can’t find an apartment in 2 weeks, then I will try to get student housing. 

As a soon-to-be-35 year old, I don’t like the idea of living with a bunch of 18-22 year olds in dorms with 8 people sharing two bathrooms.

According to the Sao Paulo wikitravel:

“In fact, two of the most visited areas, Downtown and the Pinheiros subprefecture (in the West), have respectively 150% and 50% more violent crime than the city average (according to [59]). Check the individual district listings for safety advice in each area of the city. The general advice is as follows.”
•    “Bela Vista (Bixiga) — Besides being one of the biggest meccas of Italian culture outside of Italy itself, Bela Vista, also known as Bexiga or Bixiga, became home to the city's most important theater venues and also has a vibrant nightlife, dotted with bars where bands, be they new or veteran, show off all their skills when it comes to rocking the place.
•    Bom Retiro — The district contains the neighborhood of Luz, one of the richest neighborhoods of the city during Brazil's coffee-based economy - which fell apart during the 20s. Luz is a decadent area, with many streets populated by drug addicts, although a revitalization plan to relocate them is underway. Its historical importance and landmarks still make it a place not to be missed. Bom Retiro has also developed an officially-recognized Koreatown, with a large majority of shops and restaurants owned by Korean immigrants or their descendants.
•    Consolação — The neighborhoods composing this district, Consolação, Higienópolis and Pacaembu, were the first to grow outside the more historical part of the center. They are considered to be the "noble" areas of the Center, and even the "Red Light" zone on Rua Augusta is gradually being cleaned up.”

•    “Santa Cecília — Like República, Santa Cecília was an upscale residential area that turned decadent for various reasons, including the construction of Elevado Presidente Costa e Silva ("Minhocão"), one of the most ill-conceived projects that the city has met, and the most notorious landmark of the district. A revitalization plan for the the district is also underway.”

Seems like wikitravel is saying that the downtown area is dangerous in general, although consolacao is considered one of the more “noble” areas of the center.  What does that mean?  Is it the king of the shitty neighborhoods, or is it an actual, good neighborhood?


Student housing: I’ve had 4 different student housing premises recommended to me by the school I’m going to:
1.    Bela Vista: at the intersection of Rua Dr. Penaforte Mendes and Rua Barata Ribeiro (I could afford it)
2.    Santa Cecilia: at the intersection of Av. Sao Joao and Av. Duque de Caxias (I could afford it)
3.    Consolacao: at the intersection of Rua Cunha Horta and R. Amaral Gurgel (expensive)
4.    Butanta: at the intersection of Rua MMDC and Rua Martins (they didn’t respond to my emails)
Only Butanta is outside of the centro area.
Bela Vista, Bom Retiro, Consolacao, Santa Cecilia are all in the downtown area, which as noted above is dangerous. 
None of these dorms are located in a bairro nobre.
What do you think of these neighborhoods? 


You mentioned that you are your husband were thinking about moving to bom retiro or consolacao, but aren’t those dangerous neighborhoods?  I think they are both close to my school.


Are the neighborhoods in downtown (centro) of any Brazilian city dangerous?

are the centro neighborhoods of sao Paulo dangerous?

Stevefunk made an estimate of housing costs to be 1000-1500 reais a month.  Numbeo says a 1 bedroom apartment outside of the city center is 1,319.  Numbeo says a bedroom in the city center is 1,865 reais.  I’m trying to shoot for housing under 1500 reais a month, but 1865-1900 reais is the upper limit.

is it stupid to live in liberdade if i want to get good at portuguese?  i like asian food, and i know that a lot of the japanese in brasil are 3rd or 4th generation, but it seems like from what i've read that liberdade is mostly chinese and korean now, and there may be immigrants from asia who don't speak portuguese that well, i'm guessing.  i also read that since liberdade is cheap, you might have a hooker as a neighbor (gross).  so is it stupid to live in liberdade if i want to get good at portuguese?

“Re:  Questions 12 & 13.  People take taxis and Ubers to avoid crime, but also to avoid walking -- it's a huge, spread-out city.
A mile from the subway?  It depends.  If you're alone in Centro at night, yeah, get a ride ASAP, preferably in front of a restaurant or hotel that's open.  If you're with a bunch of friends on Avenida Paulista, or clubbing with friends in a popular area, walk or ride, your option.”

Yeah, I’m concerned that almost all of the recommended dorms are in the centro area.

“Those cards that you have to pay at least $25/mo. for sound like a really bad deal, wherever you are.  Check with your bank, or check on Credit Karma, to see whether you can replace them with free cards, or at worst, with cards whose annual fees are less than $300 each.”
That’s not what I meant.  One of my citi cards has no annual fee.  The other one has a 75 dollar annual fee.  What I meant was that there must be a minimum $25 payment every month for charges every month.  So if I racked up $300 worth of payments on the credit card, I have to pay at least $25 worth of charges. 
So if I only have $20 worth of charges one month, then I still have to pay $25 worth of charges for that month, and I will get a $5 credit the next month. 
These are not annual payments.

I posted this earlier, but I’ll post it again:
“Be careful using credit cards at taxis, gas stations, newsstands and small outlets. Their owners aren't so careful about checking employees and technicians who perform maintenance on card machines, so many people have their cards compromised and then over several days have money siphoned off their cards. A safer option is to use cash for small expenses (so you don't need to carry too much - just make sure you only withdraw from bank ATMs) and to go to bigger stores with multiple machines since their managers use to enforce security and checking protocols to prevent scammers from compromising card machines (gas station franchises being a sad exception). If you choose to use your credit card, keep an eye on your statement."
Source:
https://wikitravel.org/en/Brazil

Since wikitravel mentioned that smaller shops have security concerns with credit cards, I may end up paying mostly with cash.  So I’m not sure whether those 2 citi cards with $25 minimum payments per month are worth keeping.  what do you think?

Does anyone else have any opinions on not using credit cards at taxis, gas stations, newsstands, and small outlets?  Is this true?  I’m not sure if wikitravel has up to date information on this.  i know that credit cards now usually use the emv chip, which are safer.  I’m not sure if the brazil wikitravel page is up-to-date or not.  But if this info is current and accurate, then I gotta be really careful.

“Finally (and obviously), if you're using a debit or credit card at a checkout, be sure to shield the keypad when you input your PIN.”
Do you mean to just cover your hand that is entering in the pin so that a camera from above (birds-eye view) can NOT read your pin?


thanks

Stevefunk,
“Here this song will give you all the info about Brazilian life
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fw0uz88E2gI

Steve, I don’t need to listen to that song to know about brazil.  I watched tropa de elite.  I know exactly what everyday life in brazil is like=)

“Be a hustler don't use a despachante , I never used one or a lawyer all the way up to citizen, if you coming to Brazil you going to have to learn to be a hustler so you can be a pimp like me ! otherwise your going to just end up another boring expat old fart who cant speak portuguese properly”

I want to be a pimp also.  I also want to learn the ways of the force, so I can be a jedi, like my father before me.  I’m working hard on my Portuguese.  I’m open to at least hearing about the despachante.  They might be helpful in the first year that I’m in brazil.  I’m not saying I’ll use them, but I’ll at least find out about all my choices. 
But I think you also had help from your wife when you first came to brazil, right?
I’m not sure how good my Portuguese will be after 6 months in brazil.  I was thinking about trying to pay a grad student studying english at my school to help me out whenever I go to the policia federal within the first 6 months of being in brazil.  But it’s just a thought.  I might go alone.

Is it cool to go to the policia federal on my own when I first get to brazil?  I have to register there in the first 30 days that I get to brazil.

Should I try to go alone to the policia federal when I try to renew my visa after 6 months? 

thanks

Sprealestatebroker:

“Health Insurance.  For quick go to places, Prevent Senior is opening up coverage to younger ones, and they do have their own hospital network.  For State of Art Health Care you might be considering a coverage plan that gives you access to more specialized clinics and Hospitals.”

It seems like you’re saying “prevent senior” isn’t that great, though.

i checked out their website - it's in portuguese.  there's no english option.  i don't think it's a good idea for me to sign up for brazilian insurance when i'm at a beginner level in portuguese

“Personal safety.  You are not less safe or safer than Chicago, LA.  Just use common sense.  Avoid Bling, avoid pulling cash on the street, keep your wallet where you can see or feel it.”
We’ll see when I get to brazil.  People aren’t worried about pulling cash out on the street in LA, though.  I’m from LA, btw.

“Paperwork.  Get the help of a Despachante.  That is a Gopher type that for a fee helps you to wade through the bureaucracy.  In São Paulo, most of the bureaus you will ever need to get documents issued are these days clustered into a single building.  They call them Poupa Tempo. Find one nearby, and take the day to sort through the paperwork chase.  Follow through as needed.”

The despachantes are also called poupa tempos?

Do I find them through here:
https://www.poupatempo.sp.gov.br/

do I follow them around/accompany them when they do the work, or do I just let them do it solo (without me)?

How do I know I can trust them?  i don't want them to steal my important documents.

Are they government workers or just private people?

“Where to be.   If you need to save, go beyond the beaten path of where expats live.  There are so many neighborhoods that are not on the Tourist beaten path, yet, they are incredibly safe, and you can save
a ton on dining  out, grocery shopping, cost of housing.  The key is to be close to the subway or train stop.  Ten minutes to the subway is sacred.”
Sounds like a plan.   

“In São Paulo there are neighborhoods that you should avoid, no matter what the listing broker says.   
I often take clients, on a neighborhood showcase before we talk listing.”
I plan to look by myself, without a real estate agent.
thanks

Alascana:

“I find it hard to believe someone applied for a Student Visa in Brazil and has done little to no Research.”

i'm not sure why you thought that i did little to no research, but I have done a lot of research.  I do ask a lot of questions, though.  A lot of the answers to these questions are not posted anywhere.

“I got lost after Question 3....lol. you can PM if you like.”

thanks

update: i got my student visa.

thanks for everyone's help.  it was a pain in the ass, but it was still easier than i thought it would be, thanks to everyone.  i actually was thinking about moving to brazil in 2014, but discarded the idea when i read some articles about how hard it would be to get permanent residency/citizenship.  i ended up checking out some other countries and was kind of disappointed.  i never thought about getting a student visa to stay in brazil until i came to this website and talked to another student expat (outside of this website).

a couple of questions:

1. i was talking to a lady at the consulate.  the lady said that i can't renew the student visa in brazil.  i have to come back to the U.S. to do it.  wtf?!?!?!?!!??  i don't know if she misunderstood me, but if i sign up for another school semester in brazil, can i renew my student visa in brazil, or do i have to come back to the USA to renew my student visa?

2. can I renew my student visa in any other country outside of Brazil, or do i have to go back to my home country, the USA?

thanks

Hey man ok at least you have a sense of humour

First forget "poupa tempos"    these are branches that provided services for Brazilian citizens all in one place , forget about them you can't use the service for any of your initial paperwork - you have to go to each head office seperately

Despachante - totally private paper pusher who will accompany you around take your documents and "Help" you .....(help you enter your pockets lol)  you find them generally in private offices , online, maybe you an get a good honest one recommended , personally I think it's a bit of a waste of time, but I guess cues are longer in Sao Paulo so a Despachante will do the dirty job of waiting......personally I never waited more than 10 mins in the smaller cities I lived in usually about 1 million inhabitants

Sao Paulo I told you dog Vila Madalena - what I got to spell it out for you

"The bohemian Vila Madalena neighborhood, often called "Vila," is known for its indie fashion stores, casual cafes and contemporary art galleries. There’s vibrant street art throughout the area, particularly on Beco do Batman, an alley that’s become an open-air gallery for colorful stencils and murals. A hip crowd hangs out at the laid-back bistros and bars, and live music clubs host soul, funk and samba music."

I spent 3 weeks around there doing a course staying in dorms in pinheiros , great area and fairly safe .......you do not want to be in Butanta or Luz trust me ok ....also FORGET liberdade sp 25 de março
It chinese hell on earth, collapsing malls , human trafficing, overwoked chinese slaves sleeping on the floors of their shops or in doorways......I had to go down there right in the belly of the Beast with a Brazilian uncle who was hustling down there, you not going to like it

Finally stop worrying about the cards, it's chilled I've used cards freely all over brazil, never had a problem in any kind of shop , on the beach etc garages - NO PROBLEM
I don't bother to hide the pin Just make sure its Master Or Visa that you can swipe
Don't ever give a credit card to someone in a shop or anywhere to take away and pay , then you will get screwed, but they don't do that......has anyone done  that since the early 90's?

Get a debit card (Visa or Master) and tell your bank to unblock it for the region of Brazil
Boom!

You worry when a guy like this comes up (usually on a motorbike)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VThEm-UhFIs

Also yes did have wifes help when I came but was also studying and practicing portuguese for2 years before so I had a basic understanding of everything that was happening

Misterinternational

Congratulations on your visa coming through!

"It seems like the rfid blocking sleeves are not needed based on my research"
You're willing to consider duplicating all your banking relationships for fear of hackers, but not to spend $10 to protect your cards?  Cool -- we all have different risk thresholds.   :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:  :lol:
Just don't underestimate the technology available in Brazil, or the ingenuity of thieves in using it.
Re: insurance, if your health is generally good, you should be able to get by on SUS until you feel more confident in Portuguese.  There may be a waiting period after you sign up for private insurance, but at your age, it shouldn't be long.
Re: neighborhoods.  I won't try to steer you to a particular neighborhood just because I happen to like it.  There's a difference, though, between Centro and "near" Centro.  Centro is dangerous at night mostly because it's so deserted; places like Consolação and Bom Retiro have big student populations, so they're lively and busy all the time, as well as being convenient. 
As I've said before, I think that your fear of street crime is overblown, and that São Paulo is no more dangerous overall than any large American city.  Successful street criminals in Brazil, like everywhere else, are expert informal psychologists:  they're looking for the weakest, most isolated, most distracted targets.  You don't need to be the baddest ass on the block, you just need to not look like a soft target. We never worry on the street in São Paulo, or any Brazilian city.  We're two relatively big guys, who obviously know the inside of a gym pretty well and walk around confidently; with your MMA background, that should be part of your toolkit already.  We're always attentive to what's going on around us, don't wear a lot of jewelry or fancy clothes, and don't walk around the streets focused on our cells.  When we're in sketchy areas we're on high alert, and we avoid them after dark.  Go and do likewise, and you should be ok.  Really.
I don't like to pass on secondhand information, but a good friend who was born and raised in São Paulo warned us against Butantã.  In spite of the world renowned biomedical institute there, it has some iffy areas and the commute is long, which can make it somewhat problematic at night.  I pass that on because I believe it, but I can't promise you that it's accurate.
"is it stupid to live in liberdade if i want to get good at portuguese?" 
No, it's not stupid, at least for that reason.  Brazil has the kind of consensus that the US used to have, and  that crosses all ideological groups, from the far Left to the far Right,  on the need to assimilate and acculturate immigrants as soon as possible.  Brazilians of Asian extraction speak Portuguese as well as anyone else.  It's been some years since I was in Liberdade, but if you're comfortable there and can find good accommodations, there's no educational reason to avoid it.
Your credit cards  still sound like a bad deal to me, and whether you call it an "annual fee" or a "minimum monthly payment" is potato/potahto:  you still have to pay and not get anything in return, if you don't reach a minimum spend level.  But only you know your credit situation, and rightly so:  if that's the best you can find, and you're ok with it, then it works for you, and 'nuff said.
"Do you mean to just cover your hand that is entering in the pin so that a camera from above (birds-eye view) can NOT read your pin?"
More just the people around you.  The machines used in most places look like handheld calculators, and the keypad is open.  At least, looking around to make sure you're not being observed is a good idea.
"It seems like the “bairros nobres” in sao Paulo are just the rich neighborhoods.  I don’t think it’s a good idea for me to live in a rich neighborhood without a job."
The ones farther out tend to consist of a bunch of gated communities, and would be both expensive and inconvenient for you.  The ones convenient to your school will have a more mixed, and probably more affordable, housing mix.

Stevefunk,

“Sao Paulo I told you dog Vila Madalena - what I got to spell it out for you”

I know.  I remember that you told me that. 

I’m going to go to brasil 2.5 weeks before school and look for an apartment.  If I can’t find one, then I’ll get student housing.  I’m asking about the student housing neighborhoods, because it’s a possibility that nobody will want to live with a foreigner who barely speaks Portuguese.  i'm preparing for plan B, just in case.

“Finally stop worrying about the cards, it's chilled I've used cards freely all over brazil, never had a problem in any kind of shop , on the beach etc garages - NO PROBLEM
I don't bother to hide the pin Just make sure its Master Or Visa that you can swipe
Don't ever give a credit card to someone in a shop or anywhere to take away and pay , then you will get screwed, but they don't do that......has anyone done  that since the early 90's?”

Do you use your credit card at taxis, gas stations, newsstands, and small outlets?

thanks

Abthree,

“"It seems like the rfid blocking sleeves are not needed based on my research"
You're willing to consider duplicating all your banking relationships for fear of hackers, but not to spend $10 to protect your cards?  Cool -- we all have different risk thresholds.                 “

Well, the bank idea was my brother’s idea.  I didn’t really want to do it.  My brother thinks he’s a lot smarter than he is, and sometimes he says some dumb shit.  He’s traveled A LOT, though.  He’s never been to brasil, though.
Today, my brother was telling me to sleep under a mosquito net to avoid zika, dengue, chikungunya, etc.  Do you think this is a good idea?

“I don't like to pass on secondhand information, but a good friend who was born and raised in São Paulo warned us against Butantã.  In spite of the world renowned biomedical institute there, it has some iffy areas and the commute is long, which can make it somewhat problematic at night.  I pass that on because I believe it, but I can't promise you that it's accurate.”

Ah, ok.  This is good to know.  Thanks.

You gave me some links to look for apartments.  I think they’re going to come in handy soon.

“Your credit cards  still sound like a bad deal to me, and whether you call it an "annual fee" or a "minimum monthly payment" is potato/potahto:  you still have to pay and not get anything in return, if you don't reach a minimum spend level.  But only you know your credit situation, and rightly so:  if that's the best you can find, and you're ok with it, then it works for you, and 'nuff said.”
I currently have 3 credit cards, but I applied for 2 that don’t have any foreign exchange fees.  They’re processing.  I plan to get rid of 2-3 of my current cards in the near future.


thanks

i have some more questions.  So here they are:

1. i'm getting a 6 month visa.  a lady at the consulate told me that once i enter brasil, the six month clock starts.  my classes will end AFTER the 6 months ends.  she said that i can talk to the policia federal a month before my visa runs out to extend the visa for ONE MORE MONTH ONLY.  is that true?  my return plane flight is about 7 months + 1 week after my entry date.  If that's true, then it means that my return ticket is useless.

2. could i hypothetically change my plane flights after getting the student visa without telling the consulate?  (i'm not planning to, because the fees wouldn't make it worth it.  i just want to know)

3.  i know i'm not legally allowed to work in brazil while on a student visa.  am i allowed to work on an american website while on a student visa in brazil?

4. if i make a website, i could put affiliate links on the website (every time you buy a product from a link on my website, i get paid a commission).  it's not a job.  can i get money on an american website through affiliate links (it's not a job technically) while on a student visa in brazil?

5. if i got income from an american website through either a job (like number 5) or through affiliate links (number 6), is that something i'd have to disclose to the brazilian consulate when i try to renew my student visa?  (they asked on the application what my job was)

6. do you think brazil is monitoring my bank account?  I provided bank statements to the Brazilian consulate digitally and in paper.  I thought that they would hand back the paper bank statements, but they kept them. 

-pacific prime international health insurance quoted me some international health insurance rates of 173 us dollars (674 reais) , 215 us dollars (838 reais), and 238 (927 reais).  These plans do not come with dental.  I haven’t talked to any other international health insurance companies at this point.

7. I talked to my brazilian school.  The administrator said that the school said that SUS is not sufficient.  I must have some sort of insurance (private or expat insurance).  He said that the school can help me to sign up for brazilian PRIVATE INSURANCE.  Is this preferable to signing up for INTERNATIONAL INSURANCE (EXPAT INSURANCE)?

8. however, if I sign up for Brazilian private insurance, and if I go to medical appointments, I don’t want to keep bothering the school administrator about calling the insurance in Portuguese.  Do you think it’s better if I just do international health insurance for now so I don’t have to keep bothering the school if I go to medical appointments.

9. I remember that texanbrazil said that private insurance is around 300 reais per month.  The administrator at my school claims that private insurance is 600-900 reais per month.  Is this legit, or is he trying to rip me off?


10. I can get my CPF at the Brazilian consulate.  I’ll try to do that if get my apostilled birth certificate back quickly (it’s getting mailed to California).  Should i try to do anything else at the Brazilian consulate in america?

11. I read an awesome article 2 days ago:
http://www.shannontrindade.com/getting- … xperience/

I read that article 2 days ago, but the website is down now.  From what I remember, the girl said that she went to the federal police in brazil and got a student visa and an RNE at the same time.  I tried to check the website before I made the post, but it wasn’t working.  Should I try to get an RNE when I get my CPF at the Brazilian consulate?  I thought the RNE is only something you get when you apply for a permanent visa? 

12. someone at the consulate told me that i have to come back to the usa to renew my student visa for the next semester, but i get the impression that that's not really true.  based on what i read, it seems like i'll probably be able to do it in brazil.  i don't know much about computers, but i did read that laptops last about 3-5 years.  my laptop is 3.5 years old, and it has some problems, but in general it runs ok.  i still have another year or two left.  but i've also read that electronics cost 2-3x more in brasil (compared with america).  i'm guessing that if my hunch is correct, that i can renew my student visa in brazil, then i won't be coming back to the usa for awhile (unless there's a funeral).  i'm guessing that i should probably just buy a new laptop now.  what do you think?

13. as mentioned previously, i have a student visa.  once i get to brazil, what happens if something comes up (for instance, there might be a wedding, a funeral, or a family member might be dying), and i want to leave brazil for a short period and then come back (within the school semester)?  do i have to tell the policia federal that i am leaving brazil and coming back within the school semester,  or is it ok to leave and come back to brazil without telling the policia federal?

Thanks

misterinternational

"Today, my brother was telling me to sleep under a mosquito net to avoid zika, dengue, chikungunya, etc.  Do you think this is a good idea?"

No.  The first time I lived in Brazil, I had a mosquito net, so when we became engaged, I asked my then-fiancé, "we have to get a mosquito net, right?"  He still chuckles at me every time we pass a store that sells them, or a house in the interior that has them.  Brazil has made great strides in mosquito control in the cities.  Even the best netting reduces air flow and has to be kept clean, and it's no longer worth the effort where you'll be living.

The one mosquito-related concern that you MUST NOT NEGLECT, though, is getting a yellow fever shot.  Yellow fever cases have been reported this past year in both the interior and the capital of São Paulo.  The disease is deadly, and the vaccine is highly effective.  Get it before you come if at all possible, and immediately on arrival, if not.

Re:  new questions

Questions 1&2 -- spare yourself some stress, and leave your ticket as it is for now.  You'll figure out better how your visa extensions will work once you're here, and you can always change your return for a fee if you need to.  Worst case, you can overstay your visa for a few days:  the fine will be less than R$1000 for the number of days you're talking.

Questions 3, 4, & 5 -- no problem with a US-based income.  On a student visa, you don't have to report it to anyone in Brazil.

Question 6 -- you won't be able to open a Brazilian bank account on a student visa, and the Brazilian authorities have no way to monitor your US accounts.  Even  if you had a Brazilian account, they would only monitor for potential criminal activity, like large, unexplained receipts and disbursements.

Questions 6 (insurance) to 8 -- I'd probably go with your school's insurance.  You can probably drop it later, if you don't like it.  It's convenient, and their plan probably includes doctors who have at least some English.  The local plan will almost certainly pay providers directly; with a lot of expat plans, you need to pay upfront and get reimbursed, which is a problem, or their direct pay network is small and inconvenient.

Question 9 -- seems a little high, but probably not unreasonable for a short-term plan, and competitive with the international plan you saw.  I'd go  with one of their lower priced offerings to start, and upgrade or shop around later, if you're not satisfied.

Questions 10 & 11 -- I'm surprised you can get a CPF at the Consulate, but if you can, go for it -- it'll save you a trip to the Receita Federal.  As for the CRNM (former CIE/RNE), that's strictly with the Federal Police.  If they give you one with a student visa (which I don't know), it will be timed to expire with your visa, and contain the no-work requirement.

Question 12 -- Yes, electronics are very expensive here, so a new laptop before you come is a good investment, if you think that your current one may fail on you.

Question 13 -- your school can provide orientation on this when/if the situation arises; I'd follow their advice.

You get a CPR at the RF office, but this is what I did:
•With passport in hand, go to the nearest Correios (or Post Office in English). They are all around Brazil.
•Tell the attendant at the Correios that you want a CPF number…. “Eu sou um estrangeiro, e eu quero um CPF” (I am a foreigner, and I want a CPF).
•The attendant will ask you a bunch of questions like your address in Brazil (apartment, hotel, hostel, etc.), your mother’s name, your contact telephone number, etc.
*Pay the fee and Correios will give you a yellow receipt. Take all to RF and get you number (Should have some reading material if lots of people there.) Once number is called tell the attendant that you want a CPF number. They will ask to see your passport and yellow receipt.
Then they give you CPF

As stated  As for the CRNM you need to schedule an appointment with the PF
You should go to the CAPEE Office at your school to schedule the day of the appointment to the Federal Police. 
Your school should tell you what you need.

Yes.  I got a yellow fever shot already.  I also got a typhoid, tetanus, and hepatitis a shot.  The travel nurse said that that’s all I need for brazil.
Do I need a rabies shot? 
“Questions 1&2 -- spare yourself some stress, and leave your ticket as it is for now.  You'll figure out better how your visa extensions will work once you're here, and you can always change your return for a fee if you need to.  Worst case, you can overstay your visa for a few days:  the fine will be less than R$1000 for the number of days you're talking.”
Is it going to reflect poorly on my record if I overstay my visa?
Will overstaying my visa make it less likely for me to renew my student visa or get citizenship in the future?

“Questions 6 (insurance) to 8 -- I'd probably go with your school's insurance.  You can probably drop it later, if you don't like it.  It's convenient, and their plan probably includes doctors who have at least some English.  The local plan will almost certainly pay providers directly; with a lot of expat plans, you need to pay upfront and get reimbursed, which is a problem, or their direct pay network is small and inconvenient.”
It’s not really school insurance.  It’s the school calling a company which gets prices and information from at least 2 brazilian insurance providers.
So in America, after you go to the doctor, you have to call up the insurance after and fill out some forms after the appointment.  Are you saying that with Brazilian private insurance, everything is calculated up front, and I do not need to follow up and call the Brazilian private insurance company after a doctor’s appointment?

What kind of price range is reasonable for Brazilian private insurance?
I can also ask the school administrator to check out other Brazilian private insurance prices.

“Questions 10 & 11 -- I'm surprised you can get a CPF at the Consulate, but if you can, go for it -- it'll save you a trip to the Receita Federal.  As for the CRNM (former CIE/RNE), that's strictly with the Federal Police.  If they give you one with a student visa (which I don't know), it will be timed to expire with your visa, and contain the no-work requirement.”

Yeah.  I checked with the consulate, and they agreed that I could get a CPF number there. 
Should I pro-actively ask the Brazilian consulate (in America) or the federal police (in brazil) if I am supposed to get a CRNM for a Brazilian student visa, or is that going to sound shady, like I’m trying to get permanent residency when I’m not supposed to (on a student visa)?  Or should I just not say anything and see if the federal police automatically gives me a CRNM when I tell them where I moved to during my first 30 days in brazil.

I think James said something about how the CPF is “not privileged” information.
Is the CPF a secret number (like an American social security number) that I don’t want to give out to people, because they can steal my identity with it?  Or is it something that I can freely give out to people?

I heard that you need to fill out forms with your CPF all the time, even when you buy some small items from a deli.  Is that true?

“Question 12 -- Yes, electronics are very expensive here, so a new laptop before you come is a good investment, if you think that your current one may fail on you.”
I bought a new laptop yesterday

Random questions:
I heard that there are not laundromats where you can wash your own clothes in brazil, but you can pay people to wash your clothes.  do these people that you pay to wash your clothes have a store or something that I can go to?  If so, what are these shops called?  Or do you find these clothes-washers through word of mouth?

James mentioned that you can get copies of your important documents (passport, visa, birth certificate, CPF) at the cartorio.  Can I get the documents plasticized at the cartorio?

Does the cartorio also translate these documents?  Do I even need them translated?

Should I get a copy of the birth certificate made at the cartorio?  Or is it more like the passport, visa, and CPF that I should get copied (and not the birth certificate)? 

do i have to get a driver's license?  i heard that you are required to get a driver license in brazil after 6 months.  i heard that it's a pain in the ass to get.  i don't have any plans to drive.  i plan to just use sao paulo public transportation.

my us driver license expires in 3 years.  i talked to the dmv in nyc.  they said that i can't extend the expiration date until a year before it expires, and i have to do it in person.  although i suppose if i come back to the us, i should just change it to a california driver license, since i won't have an address in new york.  if my us driver license expires, do i have to get a brazilian driver license? 

and should i set my address for my credit cards to california (my mom's house) or brazil?  i know that i will have a lot of forms to fill out when i apply for a student visa or permanent residency in the future, and they will be looking for my address.  what is best?  to have a us address or brazilian address for credit cards and utilities?  i plan to forward all my mail to my mom's house in california, since it will take like 2 months, i heard, for regular mail to get to brazil.

thanks

Is the CPF a secret number (like an American social security number) that I don’t want to give out to people, because they can steal my identity with it?  Or is it something that I can freely give out to people?

I heard that you need to fill out forms with your CPF all the time, even when you buy some small items from a deli.  Is that true?

->R: CPF is important for most basic services. It is not necessarily secret, for it is not very difficult for some virtual criminal to get the number. To do anything against you would require a lot of data, like the RG number. But it is not recommended to give the number in unnecessary situations.

I heard that there are not laundromats where you can wash your own clothes in brazil, but you can pay people to wash your clothes.  do these people that you pay to wash your clothes have a store or something that I can go to?  If so, what are these shops called?  Or do you find these clothes-washers through word of mouth?

->R: I do not know these services here. But if you talk to any neighbor or friend they would help you.

James mentioned that you can get copies of your important documents (passport, visa, birth certificate, CPF) at the cartorio.  Can I get the documents plasticized at the cartorio?

->R: Usually you pay for plasticizing, but it is very cheap.

do i have to get a driver's license?  i heard that you are required to get a driver license in brazil after 6 months.  i heard that it's a pain in the ass to get.  i don't have any plans to drive.  i plan to just use sao paulo public transportation.

->R: This is not true. It's very easy to get a driver's license in Brazil because most of the schools unfortunately are corrupted and sell it without having to go to class.

If you are in São Paulo, I recommend looking for the main documents (General Register, CPF) in PoupaTempo.

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